Before we start: If you truly want to nurse your damaged natural hair back to health, you must first be completely honest about how damaged your hair truly is.
Does your hair just struggle with dryness and a few split ends or are you trying to recover from a full head of chemical damage?
This could be the difference between doing something simple like a nice deep condition or being forced into more drastic measures like a haircut.
Be honest with yourself and understand that the more severe your damage is, the more likely it is that you will need a significant cut. With that being said…
Snip your split ends or damaged pieces of hair.
If you’re comfortable with cutting an inch or few of your hair by yourself at home, you can go ahead and detangle, stretch, and cut away.
However, if you don’t know how to cut your hair or have too much to cut, this may be a job to leave for a professional stylist.
However, there are a few of us who don’t visit the salon for various reasons. We don’t trust many people with our hair, stylists in our respective cities don’t have enough experience dealing with natural hair, it’s expensive, etc.
If this is the case for you, consider investing in the correct materials (shears, combs, etc), watch a YouTube tutorial you can easily follow, and get to trimming!
Choose your fighter: protein treatments, bond-builders, or deep conditioners.
Hair treatments are a vital part of any healthy hair regimen because they either help you recover from damage or maintain your already healthy hair.
Truth be told, all hair treatments are great, but all of them are probably not necessary for what you’re trying to achieve.
Protein Treatments: Simply put, these treatments use protein to strengthen hair, minimize breakage, and restore damaged hair to a healthier state.
This works best for those of you with severe damage from heat, dye, or styling. These are not a good option for you if you have protein-sensitive hair that reacts adversely to protein.
While it’s normal for protein treatments to make your hair slightly stiff and dry, they should not make your hair feel hard and brittle.
To see if your hair is protein-sensitive, do a quick test on a small section of your hair with a protein such as an egg, Greek yogurt, or avocado to see how your hair reacts.
If rough and dry compared to the rest of your hair, you may want to skip a hard protein treatment.
How often: Once a month or every 6 weeks.
Bond Builders: These treatments help bring heat damaged or chemically over-processed hair back to life by relinking broken disulfide bonds in your hair.
While they’re similar to protein treatments in the sense that they effectively treat damage and should only be used on damp or wet hair, they are not the same.
In fact, there is so little protein in most bond builders that they would be the most appropriate option for those of you with damaged hair that is also protein-sensitive.
How often: Once a month.
Deep Conditioners: If you don’t know by now, deep conditioning requires you to leave the conditioner on your hair for an extended period of time.
It may be 10 minutes, 30 minutes, an hour, or overnight, but any amount of time should work to moisturize your hair, improve its texture, fight frizz, and reduce breakage depending on what product you use.
Every single one of us should deep condition 1-2 times a month—especially after doing one of the more intensive treatments mentioned above.
How often: Once a week on average, twice if you really need it, and once every other week if your hair is thin or fine.
Move right into a protective or low manipulation.
You did everything you were supposed to do to make sure your hair went back to a healthy state and for the most part, it is (or should be soon!).
Now all you have to do is give it a break! Some of us have damaged hair because we do too little and the rest of us are probably doing too much.
In either case, protective styles are a convenient and cute way to give your hair a break. Plus, it gives you some extra time to brush up on your hair education so you’ll be able to properly handle your hair on a daily.
Marley twists, box braids, faux locs, wigs, weaves, and crochet styles are all good protective options. Need something low-manipulation and protective?
Try low buns, loose jumbo braids and twists, puffs, and twist and knot-outs are also good to go!